Laura Miller from Salon.com got it right when she described the stories in Alice Munro's tenth collection: "They're like compressed novels, three-course meals rather than the unsatisfying canapés most short stories resemble." Our finest contemporary short story writer, Alice Munro is frequently compared to Chekhov, a comparison that is never made lightly. Her stories capture the minuscule and the overall, the gesture, nuance, and also the quiet tragedy. Like Chehkov, her writing follows her characters with empathy and curiosity, and gracefully records the subtle shift in a character's feelings. Captured is the moment when the heart changes direction a flickering doubt, a submerged memory, or an impulse to disloyalty. Many of the stories in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage are linked by themes of infidelity both dared or denied but hovering always are Munro's ever-present themes of betrayal, family, love, and loss. Munro has never written better. Georgie, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A superb new collection from one of our best and best-loved writers. Nine stories draw us immediately into that special place known as Alice Munro territory-a place where an unexpected twist of events or a suddenly recaptured memory can illumine the arc of an entire life.
The fate of a strong-minded housekeeper with a frizz of reddish hair, just entering the dangerous country of old-maidhood, is unintentionally (and deliciously) reversed by a teenaged girl's practical joke. A college student visiting her aunt for the first time and recognizing the family furniture stumbles on a long-hidden secret and its meaning in her own life. An inveterate philanderer finds the tables turned when he puts his wife into an old-age home. A young cancer patient stunned by good news discovers a perfect bridge to her suddenly regained future. A woman recollecting an afternoon's wild lovemaking with a stranger realizes how the memory of that encounter has both changed for her and sustained her through a lifetime.
Men and women are subtly revealed. Personal histories, both complex and simple, unfold in rich detail of circumstance and feeling. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage provides the deep pleasures and rewards that Alice Munro's large and ever- growing audience has come to expect.
"Munro's style is largely invisible in its economy. She constructs her stories out of long strings of detailed observations, each of them exactly right....Writers who concentrate so fiercely on particulars can run the risk of sounding too shrewd, too gratified by their own tricks of verisimilitude. But Munro is never knowing for the sake of being knowing, in the manner of Jonathan Franzen in The Corrections
with his corporate gardens." Ruth Franklin, The New Republic
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"The stories in this new collection don't play dazzling tricks with time and memory as some of her recent work has, but they're sagacious nevertheless....They're like compressed novels, three-course meals rather than the unsatisfying canapes most short stories resemble. They are replete with the histories of restless girls trying to shake off their mundane origins and grown women who have built dream castles around a single, breathless, unconfessed adultery....This is the terrain of love seen from the long prospect, a seasoned view. As unprepossessing as her characters may seem, Munro knows that their lives include the far reaches of ambition, betrayal, regret and, finally, wisdom." Laura Miller, Salon.com
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"The highest compliment a critic can pay a short-story writer is to say that he or she is our Chekhov. More than one writer has made that claim for Alice Munro.
Her genius, like Chekhov's, is quiet and particularly hard to describe, because it has the simplicity of the best naturalism, in that it seems not translated from life but, rather, like life itself. In analyzing another Russian writer's transparent straightforwardness, James Wood described the critic's frustration: 'Why are his characters so real? Because they are so individual. Why does his world feel so true? Because it is so real. And so on.'" Mona Simpson, Atlantic Monthly
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